Biofield therapy, otherwise known as energy healing, is a domain of complementary and alternative medicine that includes therapies such as Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, Healing Touch, and Qigong. Biofield therapies work to smooth out imbalances in the person’s energy field and direct healing energy to enhance general health and wellness, or to treat a particular dysfunction through modifying the energy field (Maville et al., 2008; Anderson & Taylor, 2011). Biofield therapies work with the client’s energy field, the energy that is considered to be chi, qi, ki, and prana from different theoretical and cultural standpoints, such as ayurveda and Chinese medicine (Mills & Jain, 2010). Any changes in the energy field results in apparent physiological and psychological changes, as demonstrated in various research studies. Biofield therapies are believed to increase the wellness of the practitioner and those receiving the services by focussing on healing and creating harmony within the mind, body, and spirit connection. Each of these techniques have notable similarities as well as distinctly unique differences, but in this research paper we will be focussing on the benefits of energy healing. As part of the human experience we seek opportunities to find things that make us feel good and experience wholeness, this is imbued in the practice of energy healing, as evident by its ability to enhance one’s overall health. There are great benefits from energy healing and it is meant for everyone, especially for those who are stricken with stress induced disease, to provide a therapeutic relaxation remedy to help alleviate stress, pain, and suffering (Tang, et al., 2010). Biofield therapies are among the most ancient of healing practices, whilst energy healing has a rich history serving humanity for many ages only recently have research studies been conducted to attempt to show the many benefits this practice has to offer. Scientific quantification of the methods, mechanisms, safety, and effectiveness of biofield therapies are still limited (Anderson & Taylor, 2011). Research done over past decades help to unmask the various forms of energy healing that are available, with many emphasizing the impact of energy healing in the hospital, and how it has influenced patients and healthcare workers (Anderson & Taylor, 2011; Tang et al., 2010). Furthermore, psychoneuroimmunology is prevalent in various research studies; it is apparent the relaxation benefits of energy healing to alleviate symptoms of pain and expedite healing, thus to contribute to greater wellbeing (Mills & Jain, 2010). Throughout this paper I will provide critical review of recent studies on the effects of energy healing on people’s wellbeing, and the implications of energy healing in our society. I give a brief background of my experience with energy healing. I conclude with a discussion, in my perspective, the need for energy healing in diverse populations as it holds the key to bring peace and healing to people’s lives.
First, wellness defined. The UOI Wellness Center’s (2015) Charles Corbin defines wellness as “a multidimensional state of being; it describes the existence of positive health, exemplified by quality of life and a sense of well-being.” Another definition provided by The National Wellness Institute (2015), “Wellness is an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices towards, a more successful existence.” Our lives are more than what we feel with our physical bodies. “We are spiritual beings living a human experience” as eloquently penned by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. In essence we are a sum total of all the parts that make us whole. Therefore, each choice we make affects our wellness and alters the balance of our entire being. There are seven dimensions that make us whole, these include: emotional, environmental, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual, as described by UOI Wellness Center (2015). Once we bring these dimensions into balance, we can experience wellness. Other researchers have found that the integration of four aspects of ourselves brings on wellness. These are spirituality, physical status, cognitive and emotional processes, and environments (Cross et al., 2009). In other words, mind, body, and spirit need to be integrated into one for a person to be whole, healthy, and well. When all areas and dimensions of our life are in balance we are said to be healthy. Energy healing is just one way to enhance this integration of all parts of ourselves for increased wellness. Mind, body, and spirit are an entity; people are whole and need to be treated as such. Energy healing allows people to deepen their connection with their bodies, minds, and spirits to understand where the problems arise, which is the basis of psychoneuroimmunology. Energy healing promotes health and disease prevention, and works to heal the whole person. “Alternative healing therapies grew out of a holistic view in which the body, mind, and spirit are conceptualized as integrated and interrelated” (Breda & Schulze, 1998). Western medicine is a temporary fix; surgery and drugs can only attempt to treat a problem in the body, they do not solve the root cause of the problem. Energy healing is integrated into Western medicine to increase the odds of healing. Energy healing goes to the root of the problems people are experiencing (Daruna, 2012). It is proven in many studies the impact energy healing has on people’s wellness.
In one study, it was demonstrated that Healing Touch assisted in the healing of people recovering from heart surgery. The energy healing worked to alleviate the symptoms of pain, improve sleep, and reduce levels of cortisol for increased ability to heal the body after surgery (MacIntyre et al., 2008). There is a clear link between elevated cortisol levels from stress, circadian rhythm disruption, and our immune function (Cooke, 2012). Stress hormones impair the immune system and negatively influences the patient’s ability to heal. With energy healing, the patient/client’s natural ability to heal is reinvigorated, energy flows smoother, and potential blocks to self-healing are eliminated. Energy healing practices are relaxing and a reduction in stress hormones and an increase in feel-good hormones are experienced (Daruna, 2012). With improvements in the immune system, patients can experience relaxation, less pain, and faster recovery, all signs of increased wellness. With energy healing, patients may directly experience the benefit of intention that comes from an energy healing practice.
Energy healing methods are growing in popularity, in high demand by a variety of patients, and widely used throughout hospitals. Medical colleges are teaching complementary healing therapies to nurses; for alternative approaches meet a need Western medicine is unable to satisfy (Breda & Schulze, 1998; Tang, 2010). Energy healing is integrated into the current healthcare system to enhance the healing abilities of clients (Stöckigt et al., 2015; Mills & Jain, 2010). There are health care organizations that have discovered the benefits of touch therapy on the lives of both the patients and providers (Gilberti, 2004). Energy healing creates a special connection and therapeutic relationship between health care provider and recipient.
In one study, the therapeutic relationship between the healer and client was investigated. An interview method was used as a means to discover the motives of the patient to seek out biofield therapies, also to get the details of the healing process and the patients’ perceptions of the results of the healing process (Stöckigt et al., 2015). The healer/patient relationship involves a unique sort of contact where the healer acts as role model and provides spiritual support during challenging healing processes. It was found that the therapeutic relationship between healer and client is a very special one, based on mutual respect, trust, and appreciation (Stöckigt et al., 2015). Emotions, visions, and spiritual experiences are freely shared; thus it is important for the clients to be willing to open up for this special connection to take place. Overall, energy healing benefits practitioners, clients, and those in the health care services and it can be practiced in addition to other health care programs, for clients and workers alike, to preserve their health and keep it in good standing while healing from deeper issues.
In a recent research study, nurses were trained in energy healing medicine (Raingruber & Robinson, 2007). The nurses felt the amazing benefits from the energy healing practices; they could tolerate their jobs much more, and it enhanced their problem-solving abilities (Raingruber & Robinson, 2007). Nurses found solitude, better health, and healing by practicing Reiki, Yoga, Tai Chi, and meditation; so they became more grounded and better at performing their jobs as nurses. Energy healing is used as a means for self-care, which gave the nurses a tool for enhanced wellness. The study allowed the nurses to become higher functioning nurses at the hospital; experiencing positive physical sensations and enhanced mental clarity (Raingruber & Robinson, 2007). It made work more enjoyable, with a reduction in work related stress/burnout, and enhanced clinical problem-solving skills (Raingruber & Robinson, 2007). By creating a sense of relaxation in their own life, they became more aware and conscious of the subtle energetic cues from their patients (Raingruber & Robinson, 2007). In another study, healing touch was given to patients with osteoarthritic pain over 6 week period, an experimental and control group were compared and it was found that healing touch did alleviate pain in a short amount of time (Lu, et al., 2013).
In a study on biofield therapies and psychoneuroimmunology, two groups of cancer patients were compared, those who received energy healing showed positive changes and increased wellness. Energy healing displayed healing effects on patients lives; it may work by ‘placebo’ or having intention and positive expectations, but there are noticeable differences between the experimental group and control group(Mills & Jain, 2010). The researchers found a gap in the research, that most studies found the effects energy healing had on reducing acute pain intensity in cancer, evidence in reduction of fatigue, and enhanced quality of life (MIlls & Jain, 2010). The researchers also found that there is a link between depression, inflammation, and progression of cancer (Mills & Jain, 2010). Biofield therapies may reduce the amount of inflammation and depression to aid in the recovery of cancer. More studies need to be done on the psychoneuroimmunological mechanisms that drive healing responses, for everyone to have a better understanding of these energetic influences on the body, mind, spirit (Mills & Jain, 2010).
Biofield therapies or energy healing promotes relaxation through centering and grounding; this can have positive implications in all areas of one’s’ life. Centering may eliminate distractions, so people may focus on what is important (Garret, et al., 2008). Centering also allows people to clear space for greater present moment awareness. With centering and grounding, the subtle energy of the body can be felt. The energy healing practitioner is well trained in centering and grounding, so they can energetically influence the client to relax. It is understood that energy healing is engaging life-force energy, otherwise known as prana, chi, and qi; The breath is considered the life-giving force. The body’s life-force energy or spirit moves smoothly throughout the energy pathways during the healing process. The premise behind energy healing is that when energy pathways of the body are blocked or disturbed, a disruption occurs in the person’s holistic harmony, which may result in illness, disease, weakness, imbalance, pain, and psycho-spiritual issues (Fazzino, et al., 2010). With these blocks in the person’s energy, health degrades, thinking is not clear, and suffering happens. Energy healing practices like Reiki, Healing Touch, Therapeutic Touch, and Spring Forest Qigong can open energy pathways and remove blocked energy (Mary Faulkner, 2012). Energy healing is meant to help nature heal itself, through unblocking, releasing, and rebalancing the person’s energy (Edwards & Edwards, 2015). ‘Laying of hands’ methods of energy healing are essentially all the same or serve the same purpose, but there are currently many types of methods which are described in greater detail next.
Spring Forest Qigong (SFQ) is a Chinese form of energy healing and in Chinese medicine, which is similar to Ayurveda medicine and other ancient cultures where energy is seen as the basis of medicine (Karin, Cooke, 2012). Master Chunyi Lin created SFQ. He teaches it in a way that is easy to understand and so people can become self-healing, Lin’s vision is “A healer in every family and a world without pain.” (Jane Coleman, 2011). “The active exercise and the meditation aspects of SFQ are effective self-care modalities for persons with perceived chronic physical pain and/or emotional distress” (Coleman, 2011). A study found that with SFQ, there was a significant decrease in the perceived pain of patients with chronic pain (Coleman, 2011). Furthermore, the clients experienced improved sleep, concentration, decision making, and reversal of loss of interest in people experiencing chronic pain (Coleman, 2011). SFQ has shown to increase relaxation in patients, with numerous other health benefits that increase their well-being. Another form of energy healing is Therapeutic Touch (TT). It is a simple method that can be used by nurses and practitioners to quickly and conveniently perform energy healing. Healing touch (HT) is a more complex system of energy healing, unique in its own way.
Reiki is a very spiritual form of energy healing. This technique began long ago in Japan and was rediscovered by Dr. Usui in the 60’s and has spread across the world with great intensity (Stein, 1996). A certified Reiki practitioner performs Reiki once initiated into level 1, 2, or 3, he/she uses hands-on or hands-off in 12 designated places of the body (Raingruber & Robinson 2007). Reiki is more passive than the other forms of energy healing (Miles, 2015). The Reiki practitioner is trained to channel universal healing energy and light from God, to redistribute stagnant energy, and facilitate the person’s own natural ability to heal (Stein, 1996). Some people practice or receive Reiki to strengthen their wellness, help cope with their symptoms, support or integrate with their medical care for things like chronic illness and end-of-life care.
All energy healing practices promote healing in patients and are widely used throughout hospitals, rehab centers, hospice care, and assisted living facilities. They provide numerous health benefits such as improved sleep, immune function, increased social interactions, and improved daily functions (McCormack, 2009). Overall, these techniques may be used for stress reduction and to expedite the healing process. These practices work by centering, setting the intention to help or heal for the clients highest and greatest good, and directing healing energy to the client (McCormack, 2009). Practitioners of energy-based therapies use contact or no contact to influence the human energy field to affect all dimensions of the patient (Fazzino, et al., 2010). Practitioners need not be present with the client for the healing to work because distance healing is effective and always available to them, as is self-healing (Wardell et al., 2014). We each have the ability to move this life force energy, regardless of one’s religion, we can experience it fully (Faulkner, 2012).
Energy healing is rooted in the understanding that we are self-healing. It works with the energy field, affecting the whole person-body, mind, and spirit (Faulkner, 2012). Energy healing is a means to expand one’s’ consciousness; to experience healing, transformation, and spiritual growth; for this enhances the connection to to the universal field of healing energy (Stein, 1996). Those who are healers should be practicing self healing daily, “It is important that Reiki practitioners/healers practice self-Reiki daily; it is vital to personal growth and healing” (Castellano et al., 2014). It is essential or vital because it promotes healing and wellness in both client and practitioner. Healing begins when people take charge of their own health, for this reason, healers must attend to their own healing to be effective healers (Faulkner, 2012).
We are all healers; not one person is more of a healer than another (Karen, Casey, 1996). Energy healing applies to anyone who wants to experience relaxation and to heal on a deeper level. I consider myself an energy healer once completing all the Reiki levels and some healing touch and therapeutic touch. I also use energy healing and connection to spirit in my work as a practicing herbalist and Yoga teacher. Energy healing is amazing. It brings me so much joy to be able to step back from life and to simply enjoy being alive. It allows me to realize the simple pleasures in life, such as fresh air, nature, and a sense of stillness to bring overwhelming joy and contentment. I love to experience the relaxing benefits of energy healing and to share this relaxation with others. It does a mind, body, and spirit good! I enjoy helping people on a deeper level, to aid them in their discovery of their true selves, spirit. To me, energy healing is the key to wellness that everyone should know about. It brings back the magic of simply being alive, to find peace and serenity. To enjoy touch, a sense of compassion, and love for all beings everywhere, can make all the difference in the world. I find so much joy in sharing the gift of healing touch and Reiki. I feel the world and its inhabitants suffer on many different levels. Freedom from suffering is the ultimate goal for energy healing. It is my goal to help others become more aware and connected to their spiritual nature, and ability to heal thy self, for this is the objective of energy healing. One thought or action towards a more positive state of being gives the most mundane of days real meaning (Casey, 1996). All energy healing serves the same purpose, to create wellness and oneness by enhancing the sense of connection to something greater. A connection and oneness with the Universe, the Creator, the Mother Earth, and all beings everywhere, plus our innate ability to heal ourselves. It is important to know where we are in relation to all things, people, places, and experiences; otherwise we risk the chance of losing a sense of ourselves, our connection to the community, to the natural environment, and to the spiritual world. Every day is an opportunity to focus on the healing energies; to return to wholeness and wellness. More people are practicing and experiencing positive results that energy healing has on wellness, and many more to come. With energy healing the possibilities to create positive change and growth on Earth are infinite.
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